A suggestion to Seattle Prep President Kent Hickey: You can't assume that every family connected with your Jesuit school is convinced that alumnus Amanda Knox is worthy of the fundraising and letter-writing campaign that kicks off tonight at a Metro League basketball game.
A suggestion to Seattle Prep President Kent Hickey: Lose the “We.”
You can’t assume every family connected with your Jesuit school is convinced alumna Amanda Knox is worthy of the fundraising and letter-writing campaign that kicks off tonight at a Metro League basketball game.
Knox was convicted and sentenced last month to 26 years in prison for the killing of Meredith Kercher in the home they shared as students in Perugia, Italy, in 2007.
So while Hickey’s e-mail to Seattle Prep families saying, “We advocate for Amanda,” may be in keeping with the school’s Jesuit roots, it’s likely making some people angry and uneasy.
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And they would not be alone.
Just the other day, the city of Seattle shelved its plan to name a Capitol Hill park after Perugia, its longtime sister city.
In defending his decision, Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher cited “community concerns.”
Let’s just call it what it is: bad juju all around.
On Monday, Perugia Mayor Wladimiro Boccali protested the move to a Milan newspaper. He said relations between the two cities “should not be compromised by an event that is only judicial in nature.”
Mike James, the president of the Seattle-Perugia Sister City Association, expressed his disappointment thusly: “Seattle seems to come off as a smaller town than perhaps we thought.”
He’s partly right; putting the whole thing on hold does seem like punishment for something.
But I also doubt the name “Perugia” will connote the same carefree, hands-across-the-water spirit for the people of Seattle as it once did. And, for the people of Perugia, Seattle will always be the place where a young woman came from to study and ended up in prison for a killing that remains a murky mess of drugs, sex, tabloids and tremendous loss.
Are there no other names for the park? No other person or place to honor? What about the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan? The police officers killed in the line of duty?
I ask the same of Seattle Prep, and the energy its administration is putting into supporting Knox.
Why not raise money for a food bank? Why not write lawmakers about funding higher education?
Hickey defended his support of Knox with calm and grace Monday. He stressed to me that any letters written or money donated would be voluntary.
“It’s really pretty simple,” he said. “She’s a graduate of Seattle Prep and is going through a very difficult time and we are going to try to do things to support her.”
He said cura personalis or “care for the person” is the heart of Jesuit education.
“The words are meaningless unless they are lived,” he said, “even if (maybe especially if) living them out is difficult or unpopular. When we voice a commitment to cura personalis but then pick and choose to whom we should extend our care, then I would question our real commitment to this principle.”
I respect that, but I don’t think Hickey should speak for a school community that may not be united in its feelings about Knox.
If you want to offer a former student your support, fine. Send her a note and her parents a check for their travels and troubles. But don’t make it a school-sanctioned action.
Let the students do their own research, have their own discussions and be trusted to come to their own conclusions.
I would consider that caring for the person, too.
Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
She’d love a straight answer.